Arts Derbyshire


The Big BIF Weekend: Final line-up is revealed

Get ready for The Big BIF Weekend this October!

Buxton International Festival is delighted to announce the final line-up for The Big BIF Weekend (15-16 October), a mini version of its celebrated summer festival with a worldclass roster of books, classical music and jazz.

This year’s books programme features politician Peter Hain, crime writer Sarah Ward, author Azeem Azhar, lawyer Meriel Schindler and journalist Paul Mason. The music programme includes the return of popular pianist Martin Roscoe, BIF’s Chamber Ensemble: the Corran Quartet, the Harewood Artists from English National Opera and jazz sensations XPQ (Xenopoulos, Price Quartet).

Commenting on this year’s Big BIF Weekend, Michael Williams, Buxton International Festival’s CEO said: “The small but perfectly formed Big BIF Weekend offers visitors a snapshot of everything that’s great about BIF – world-class music and challenging, contemporary discussion rolled into one weekend. It’s possible to travel from the poorhouses of Nottingham to the Iraq War and from Liszt to Sonny Rollins without leaving your seat.”


The weekend’s events all take place in Buxton’s Pavilion Arts Centre, starting on Friday 15th October at 10am when Rhiannon (Sarah) Ward discusses her latest crime thriller, The Quickening, a gothic mystery set in a Nottinghamshire poorhouse. Azeem Azhar follows at 2pm with a discussion on whether humans can – and will – keep up with the power of technology.

Peter Hain takes the hot seat at 4pm to discuss his biography, A Pretoria Boy: The Story of South Africa’s ‘Public Enemy Number One’ which reflects on his teenage years up growing up as the son of anti-apartheid activists in Pretoria to his front row seat as a politician weathering the Iraq War, Brexit and Covid-19.

An evening of opera and operetta follows at 7.30pm starring soprano Soraya Mafi and baritone Alex Otterburn, both members of English National Opera’s Harewood Artists scheme follows. They are accompanied on the piano by Festival Artistic Director, Adrian Kelly.


The Festival is delighted that pianist Martin Roscoe performs at the Big BIF Weekend having had to cancel his summer Festival concert. He kick-starts proceedings on Saturday 16th October at 10am with his eagerly-awaited summer programme which includes works by piano greats Liszt, Beethoven and Brahms.

The BIF Chamber Ensemble: Corran Quartet, a young, London-based quartet follows at 12.30pm with two mighty Mendelssohn string quartets. At 1pm, lawyer-turned-author Meriel Schindler unravels her family history, taking in two centuries, two world wars and a family business as she unravels the mysteries of the famous Café Schindler and its place in Jewish history.

At 2.30pm, award-winning journalist Paul Mason looks for answers to the current rise in far-right nationalism – and to explore how the COVID-19 crisis might affect social, economic and geopolitical insecurities that often lead to extremism.


The weekend closes with The XPQ (The Xenopoulos, Price Quartet), when the awardwinning band pays homage to some of the greatest historical guitar/saxophone collaborations, such as:

  • Jim Hall & Sonny Rollins
  • Wes Montgomery & Johnny Griffin
  • Kenny Burrell & Stanley Turrentine
  • Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd

and from the UK jazz scene:

  • Dave Cliff & Geoff Simkins and the legendary Morrissey & Mullen.

The full programme can be viewed here.

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